Back in high school, I was relatively athletic…for a geeky, somewhat clumsy girl. I cheered several years, took gymnastics all through junior and high school, and played tennis both for the school and a community league. I didn’t play team sports because I’m only competitive with myself and not the slightest bit aggressive. (“Go ahead, opposing team – you can have a turn. Good luck!”) In P.E., we had those national fitness tests you had to take annually – I always did fantastic on the sit and reach, passed sit ups and push ups with flying colors, and could usually eek out one chin up to pass.
Then there was the mile run.
I haaaaaa-ted running. I mean, I could run to start a round-off for a tumbling pass, or across the tennis court to return a serve, but running more than a couple dozen yards at a time sounded about as fun as doing extra algebra homework. Most years I managed to fail just slightly (I think passing was a 12-minute mile). But if my memory serves me correctly, once I finished around 17 minutes. I don’t even know how this is possible because you can walk a mile faster than that. Slowly.
Fast forward to my late twenties and I found myself wanting to be in better shape. I joined a gym and spent quite a bit of time walking on the treadmills (watching food network on the attached TV, of course). One day I thought I’d try running for about one minute, and made it about 90 seconds. The next day, two minutes. The next, four. I worked my way up to running an entire mile without walking, which at that point I had never done before. A few weeks later I found out I was pregnant, and had to slow back down.
After I had my son, I went back to the gym, only to find out within about a month of joining I was pregnant…again. And after my daughter was born, I joined the gym and got back on the treadmill. This time I worked my way up to running 2 miles – very slowly – but it was improvement. Then my gym membership expired and all of the sudden it had been about eight months since I’d set foot on a treadmill (although I had attended a few exercise classes). Oops.
Some friends were going to train for a 5K back in June and asked if I wanted to join them. I had wanted to do one for a while just to prove to myself I could, but I declined because running a race in the summer heat sounds about as fun as… well, doing extra algebra homework. I prefer not to be hot. So I decided I’d run in a 5K on September 22 to benefit the Scleroderma Foundation in memory of Ann Caldwell, a friend who passed away with the disease a few years ago.
I started training at the end of July on an old treadmill at my in-laws house. (It was still quite hot outside.) The first week of doing the Couch to 5K program, I was WAY more couch than I realized. You start by running 1 minute then walking 1.5 minutes. I truly thought I might not make it through that first workout. But I did. And I kept doing it until last week I went to the park (it was cooler) and ran the entire 5k course three times.
The race was this past Saturday. I planned to start at the back of the runners pack and crossed my fingers that no walkers would pass me. My goal was to run the entire race without walking, and to make it in under 40 minutes. I finished without walking at 39:06. I even passed a couple of elementary-aged kids and a few senior citizens while I was at it.